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Wrestling: Montini's Danny Sheen set to represent U.S. in Cadet Pan American Games in Mexico

St. Charles resident will compete in Greco-Roman and freestyle

Montini wrestler Danny Sheen will represent the United States in the Cadet Pan American Games in Morelia, Mexico on June 28-30.
Montini wrestler Danny Sheen will represent the United States in the Cadet Pan American Games in Morelia, Mexico on June 28-30.

At 5-foot-4 and 105 pounds, Danny Sheen knows there are some sports he wouldn't be successful at.

That's why he's a wrestler, and one of the best in the country for his age group.

"I like how wrestling gives everyone an opportunity to be great," said Sheen, a rising sophomore at Montini who lives in St. Charles. "In wrestling, there's no excuses. In wrestling, it's not about how big you are, how tall you are. It's about how hard you work."

There's no doubting Sheen's work ethic now that he's punched his ticket to represent the United States in the Cadet Pan American Games in Morelia, Mexico on June 28-30.

He'll compete at 45 kilograms (99 pounds) after winning the Greco-Roman title and finishing second in freestyle at the FloNationals in Indiana, Pennsylvania in April. Sheen won a tiebreaker to be the lone American competing in Mexico in both divisions after he and Marc-Anthony McGowan of Tampa, Florida each had a title and runner-up finish in the qualifier.

Beating McGowan in the Greco-Roman final was no easy task. The Florida wrestler hadn't lost for two seasons and was 72-1 over the past three years.

But Sheen, who trains at Montini coach Israel Martinez's Izzy Style club, wasn't fazed.

"You always have to expect you're going to do good," he said. "I had to trust my training at Izzy Style."

So he wasn't focused on McGowan's credentials.

"Honestly, I wasn't really thinking about it," Sheen said. "It's not really about what he was doing. I was more worried about myself and what I needed to do."

Sheen's dad Scott, who wrestled collegiately at Marquette, had a front row seat for his son's breakout performance in Pennsylvania.

Scott Sheen was his son's first coach and stayed in that role until Danny was in fifth grade,

"At that stage, I knew I had to step away from coaching him," Scott Sheen said. "I wanted to be dad [instead]."

But father coached son at the Pan Am Games qualifier because Martinez had a scheduling conflict. Scott Sheen wasn't surprised by Danny's success.

"He's won at every level," Scott Sheen said. "He's been a state champ. He'd won nationals a couple times when he was little. ... He had talent, he just had to keep competing and training."

Joining Izzy Style helped Danny Sheen take the next step.

"You have to go to the right team," Scott Sheen said. "Izzy had coached world champions before. I knew that he was the best coach for my son. He also places an emphasis on academics."

Danny Sheen welcomes the challenge he faces every day in the practice room.

"It's great when you compete against guys that are really good," he said. "You're given the chance to be really, really good."

There's similar competition at Montini, which has won 15 state titles since 2000.

Sheen finished 8-0 last season as a backup at 106 pounds to Class 3A runner-up Nick Gonzalez. Sheen's last win came at 113 pounds against Barrington in the 3A state quarterfinals.

"Danny's always going to be in the hunt, no matter what. He's very smart," Martinez said, noting Sheen's 3.9 grade-point average.

Sheen has vacationed out of the country before, and he's looking forward to doing some sightseeing between matches in Mexico.

But he's viewing this as a work trip.

"I want to see the levels of it," he said. "I want to go and experience the international scene and use this as an opportunity to give me some more experience that will help me on the senior level and junior level."

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